Why I’m NOT #sheddingforthewedding

Not my actual dress. But it was a contender :)
Not my actual dress. But it was a contender 🙂

When I was looking for wedding dresses, I had just run the Chicago Marathon and was feeling pretty fab in everything I tried on. When it came down to it, I had to choose between two sizes for the dress–one that would be pretty big but with lots of extra room, and one that fit with just a bit of room to spare. While I knew I was at my racing weight, I chose the smaller size–not because I plan on any crazy body transformation but because I know myself well enough to know that my weight will stay within a reasonable range of where I was at that time.

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2009 on the left, 2017 on the right.

By way of background…. body image is obviously a huge issue and I’ve had my struggles with it, especially before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2009 and before my love affair with running really took off in 2012. Junior year of college I was carrying around 12 extra pounds–which was a fair amount on my 4’11” petite frame. While I’m grateful that my lifestyle now keeps me at a healthier weight, I’m sure that I’ll never have rock solid abs or cellulite-free thighs. And I am SO ok with that–I love to exercise but not to excess, and I love to eat but try to eat nourishing foods most of the time. I also unapologetically have dessert every night, and that’s not ending any time soon 🙂

I’ve seen a pretty crazy number of friends and bloggers take on intense fitness challenges and strict diets before their weddings. This drives me bananas for several reasons. First, if you lose a ton of weight before your wedding you will look like a different person in the pictures!! I find this so bizarre–I wouldn’t want pictures all over my house of an unrealistic version of myself. Second, who the eff cares how much you weigh on your wedding day, other than you?

Pre-wedding fitness!
Pre-wedding fitness!

You will be surrounded by people who love you, you’ll have a professional photographer who will make sure you look fab, and what makes you the most beautiful is being happy and healthy and confident. Also, wedding planning is stressful enough. If you’re always freaking out about dieting, you’ll be adding unnecessary stress.

I actually think everyone should have some kind of a fitness plan during wedding planning–because it reduces stress and helps make sure you fit it into your schedule. But just like with any fitness plan, make it enjoyable and sustainable. Jeremy and I added in a fun twist where we challenged each other to try something we’ve never done before–I had to do a November Project stadium workout and he has to run a 10k. Even better–he’s running a 15k (overachiever much?) when I run Sugarloaf in May!

Stepping off my soapbox now. I can’t wait to get married in 206 days and to enjoy lots of treats and lots of running between now and then!

On music and exercise

A huge part of my healthy gluten free lifestyle is keeping myself fit and happy from the inside out and from the outside in. For me, this means exercising 5-6 days a week. If you asked me six years ago if exercise was an important part of my life, I probably would have laughed in your face. I was hitting the gym once or twice a week, where I’d cruise on the elliptical or struggle through a pilates class. And I’d follow that class up with a couple of gluten-full beers and a plate of pasta from the dining hall. No wonder I wasn’t feeling great! Today, I’ve run six half marathons and I get cranky if I don’t get to the yoga studio 2-3 times a week. I feel amazing, and as a bonus, I finally lost that lingering college weight!

Side plank by the lake! #yogaeverywhere
Side plank by the lake! #yogaeverywhere

Part of what helped me make exercise a real part of my life was canceling my gym membership. I’m not anti-gym, but I am anti-exercise-that-isn’t-fun-and-doesn’t-make-you-happy. (I’m also anti anyone who is anti trying new things, so please don’t tell me you “can’t run” or “can’t do yoga” if you haven’t given it a fair chance.)

Source
Source

Personally, I plain old didn’t like going to the gym. I do enjoy yoga, and as it turns out, I really really like being outside. Whether I’m hiking, walking, running, x-c skiing, or downhill skiing, give me someone to chitchat with and some fresh New England air and I’m a happy camper.

On top of the world
On top of the world

As easy and breezy as that sounds now, it has taken me a while to get to this point–and I’m not ashamed to say that music is one of my biggest motivators. I love popping in my headphones and cruising down the Charles River bike path with my Spotify playlists blasting. I also learned to love yoga to the beats of Erica and Caitlyn’s fabulous hip hop yoga yoga classes at Back Bay Yoga. Nothing distracts you from the sweat dripping down your face 65 minutes into a killer vinyasa class like Jay Z,  #amiright?

Something funny happened recently, though–I started to find the music distracting. And not in that fabulous, makes-the-time-fly-by kind of way, but in the irritating, I-can’t-find-my-rhythm kind of way. Both during my yoga practice and my runs, I’m starting to work on dropping into the groove and listening to my body and breath instead of the music. It’s a funny mindset switch for me. I LIKE listening to music while I work out–I know lots of hardcore runners and yogis who are morally opposed, and I have no such problem. But I also like that I’m at a place where I’m not using the music as a crutch. Also, I’m hoping this will help me pace my runs a little bit better and work on running not just farther, but faster. Maybe even a full marathon someday. I still let loose with the occasional hip hop yoga class, and I’ll likely plug in for my longer runs, but in the meantime I’m going to work on listening to my body, my breath, and the sounds of my favorite city. I’m pretty excited about it.

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon without headphones!
Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon without headphones!

Do you run with headphones in? What kind of music gets you through your toughest workouts? What’s your stance–is music a crutch, a necessity, or a nice added bonus?